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Hemp prohibition is a political issue driven by big business interests and it's damn well time we turn these policies around through extreme civil-disobedience. Grow it everywhere, they can't get it all...
Hemp laws are immoral. Hemp can save the forests, the planet and us. Prohibition laws create crime and black markets. Taxing drugs would pay for treatment of addicts. 350,000 people die every year from smoking tobacco.
150,000 people die every year from drinking alcohol. 0 people die every year from smoking pot. Cannabis could potentially save .5 million lives every year in the US alone. The CIA is the worlds' biggest cocain dealer. The CIA would rather you smoke crack than pot. The War on Drugs is a campaign of fear and mind control; a war on civil liberties. Stop political prison sentences in our time. Stop the promotion of poisons and the prohibition of medicines. Stop the lies. Tell the truth.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: OVERVIEW
GENETICS AND THE PLANT
INDOORS & OUTDOORS - CONSTANT HARVEST STRATEGY
SEA OF GREEN
PLANT FOOD AND NUTRIENTS
PH AND FERTILIZERS
HARVESTING AND DRYING
ODORS AND NEGATIVE IONS
SAFETY AND PRIVACY
BIRTH CONTROL PILLS
SEED AND BUD STORAGE
There are few things in life as good as your own herb, grown by yourself at home out in the garden and indoors in pots... Oregano, Dill, Basil, Sage and other herbs are all easy to grow. Mint will take over the whole yard if you let it. Fresh mint and celantro are incredible in salads and oriental dishes. But it all comes down to a truly motivational herb that is your friend and mine, a great healer and teacher to those that know it well. Most people think of gardens as a seasonal, yearly project, but it's actually less time consuming and more rewarding to keep the garden going year round. If one were to attempt to grow year round, indoor gardening techniques will be needed at least during winter to keep the garden producing. You will have herb fresh at all times, there is no worry of mass storage thru the winter and spring, it requires less space, and once established, requires only minimal attention every week to keep it producing at optimal levels. The best part of being a gardener is it connects you to the earth. It connects you with nature, and is spiritually enriching. Try giving your plants energy by beaming good thoughts and energy at them every time you visit them. I find this helps me as much as it helps them; my plants seem to respond to it favorably.
GENETICS AND THE PLANT
It's very important to start with good genetics. You should attempt to find seeds from local gardeners that are acclimated and bred for local climate and best floral characteristics. Potency, aroma, fast growth, early maturation, resistars due to high light requirements, and late flowering traits, so a hybrid can be bread that will have the energetic, cerebral high of the sativa and the early maturation tendencies of the Indica plant. The Indica plant is easily recognized by its extremely broad leaves that are very rounded on the sides. The Sativa has very narrow, finger-like leaves. A hybrid will have qualities of both and have leaves that are a cross of these two types, thinner than an Indica, but much broader than a Sativa. It is possible to recognize a good hybrid by the leaves once you know what to look for. Look for seeds that are dark brown or light grey. Some may have dark lines inset into these colors, like tiger stripes. White, small seeds are immature and should not be planted.
INDOORS & OUTDOORS - CONSTANT HARVEST STRATEGY
One of the best solutions to energy verses output for most home gardeners is to use outdoor light for flowering and use continuous light indoors for germination and vegetative growth. This will take advantage of the natural light/dark cycle and cut your energy use in half compared to the same operation indoors. A small greenhouse can be built of Filon fiberglass or PVC sheets that is innocuous and looks much like a storage shed or tool shed so it's not likely to raise suspicions. In fact, a large shed of metal or plywood can be modified with a luminous roof of PVC, glass, fiberglass or plastic sheet, and some strains that do not require a great deal of light will grow well. Such a shed will discourage fly-by sightings and keep your business your own! It also allows you to keep out rats and gophers, keeps out the neighbor kids, and can be easily locked up. It will also give you an opportunity to actually plant in the ground if you desire, and this is the best way to avoid root-bound plants (if your not using hydroponics), and get bigger harvests. In winter, indoor space is used to start new seedlings or cuttings to be placed outside in the spring, using natural sunlight to ripen the plants. This routine will provide at least 3 outdoor/greenhouse harvests per year.
If more space is available to constantly be starting indoors and flowering 2nd harvest plants outdoors, harvests are possible every 60 days in many areas, with a small indoor harvest in the winter as a possibility as well. The basic strategy of year round production is to understand the plant has two growth cycles. At germination the plant enters into a vegetative state and will be able to use all the continuous light you can give it. This means there is no dark cycle required. The plant will photosynthesis constantly and grow faster than it would outdoors with long evenings. Photosynthesis stops during dark periods and the plant uses sugars produced to build during the evening. This is not a requirement and the plant will grow faster at this stage with continuous photosynthesis (constant light). Once the plant is 12-18" tall, weather permitting, it can be forced to start flowering by placing it outside in the Spring or Fall. (For Summer outdoor flowering, the night must be artificially lengthened in the greenhouse to "force" the plants to flower. See FLOWERING chapter.)
Moving the plants to 10-13 hour light periods (moving it outside) with uninterrupted darkness (no bright lights nearby) will force the plant to flower. It will ripen and be 2-3' when ready to harvest. When a plant is moved from continuous indoor light to a 10-13 hour day outside, it will start to flower in anticipation of oncoming winter. Vegetative starts moved outside March 1st, will be ripe by May 1. Vegetative starts moved outside on May 1 will be ripe by July 1. Starts moved outside Sept 1 are picked by Nov. 1st. In Winter, operations are moved indoors and acer last freezes are over. The space can be a closet, a section of a bedroom, a basement area, an attic or unused bathroom. Some people devote entire bedrooms to growing. The space must be light leak proofed, so that no suspicious light is seen from outside the house. This could invite fuzz or rip-offs.
The space should be vented. Opening the door of a closet can be enough ventilation if the space is not lit by big lights that generate a lot of heat. Separate exhaust and incoming air vents are best. One at the top of the room to exhaust air into the attic or out the roof, and one to bring in air from an outside wall or under-floor crawl space. Use fans from old computer cabinets, available from electronic liquidators for $5 each. Dimmer switches can be used to regulate the speed/noise of the fans. Use silicon to secure the fans to 4-6" PVC pipe pushed thru a round hole cut in the floor and ceilings. Use lots of silicon to damp the fans vibrations, so that the walls do not resonate to the fans' ocsilations. Line the walls with aluminum foil, dull side out to diffuse the light and prevent hot-spots, or paint the walls bright white to reflect light. Aluminized Mylar, 1 mil thick is best.($20 for 25 feet of a 4' wide roll.) Mirrors are not good to use, since the glass eats light! Line the floor with plastic in case of water spills, etc.
Set up a voltage interrupt socket and be sure the electrical wiring will handle the lamps your going to use. Always place ballasts for HID lamps on a shelf, so they are above floor level, in case of water spills. Spacers place on the floor under a ballast will work too. A shelf above the main grow area can be used to clone cuttings and germinate seedlings. It will allow you to double the area of your grow space and is an invaluable storage area for plant food, spray bottles and other gardening supplies. This area stays very warm, and no germination warming pad will be needed, so this arrangement saves you $. Hang a light proof curtain to separate this shelf from the main area when used for flowering. This will allow constant lights on the shelf and dark periods in the main grow area. Velcro can be used to keep the curtain in place and ties can be used to roll it up when tending the garden. Black vinyl with white backing works best. Now you need light. A couple of shop lights will be fine if you just want to start plants inside and then take them outside to grow in a small greenhouse. They can be purchased with bulbs for about $10 each, or without bulbs for around $8. Try to find them on sale. Use one Cool White and one Warm Light type bulb in each to get the best light spectrum possible for plant growth. Do not use expensive Grow Lux type bulbs, as they do not put out as much light, and therefor do not work as well in most situations (go figure). If Cool White is all you can find, or afford, use them. They work fine, and are by far the cheapest.(About $1-2 each.)
Shelf gardening with fluorescents may be the trend of the future, since the materials are so inexpensive, and easy to obtain. Fluorescent lamps are great for shelf gardening. In this system, many shelves can be placed, one above the other, and fluorescent lamps are used on each shelf. Some shelves have 24 hour lighting, some have 12 hour lighting (for flowering). Two areas are best, perhaps with one other devoted to cloning and germination of seed. Shelf gardening assumes your going to keep all plants 3' or shorter at maturity, so all shelves are 3-4 feet apart. Less light is necessary when you have plants that are this short and forced to mature early. One drawback to a shelf garden like this is that it is very time consuming to adjust the lamp height every day, and it is harder to take a vacation for even a week with no tending of the garden. This applies mo and if you do go on vacation, adjust the lamps so that your sure the plants will not be able to grow up to the lamps within that length of time. If enough flourecents are used to completely saturate the shelf with light, the spacing issue will not create spindly plants. They will merely grow a little slower if the lamps are not very close to them.
An alternative is to use fluorescent lamps for cloning, germination and early seedling growth on the top shelf of a closet, then switch over to HPS for heavy vegatative growth and/or flowering in the main closet area. Position the HPS such that it won't need adjustment, at the top most possible point in the closet or room. Most HPS installations will not require lamp height adjustment. Just attach the lamp to the underside of shelf or ceiling as high as possible, and if you want to get a few plants closer to it, put them on a temporary shelf, box or table to get them closer to the lamp.
A shelf is all that is necessary with this type of setup, preferably at least 18" wide, up to about 24" maximum. This area must be painted a very bright white, or covered with aluminum foil, dull side out to reflect light back to the plants. (Dull side out prevents hot-spots; diffuses light better.) Paint the shelf white too. Or, use aluminized mylar, a space blanket, or any silvery surface material. Do not use mirrors, as the glass soaks up light. Hang shop lamps from chains and make sure you can adjust them with hooks or some other type of mechanism so they can be kept as close to the plants as possible at all times (1-2"). If the lamps are too far from the plants, the plants could grow long, spindly stems trying to reach the lamp, and will not produce as much bud at maturity. This is due to internode's length being much longer. This is the length of stem between each set of leaves. If it is shorter, there can be more internodes, thus more branches, thus a plant that provides more buds in less space at harvest time. Shelf gardening is sometimes referred to as Sea of Green, because many plants are grown close together, creating a green canopy of tops that are grown and matured quickly, and the next crop is started and growing concurrently in a separate area of continuous light. Clones are raised in a constant light shelf, until they start to grow well vegetatively, then placed on a 12 hour per day shelf to flower.
Indoors, 2000 lumens per sq. ft. is about as low as you want to go indoors. If you get under this mark, plant growth will certainly not go as fast as possible, and internode/stem length will increase. Also, light distance to plants will be much more critical. Daily adjustments to the lamps will be necessary, meaning you get no vacations. 2500 lumens psf should be a good target, and 3000 is optimal if your going to inject or enrich CO2 levels (more on that later). High Intensity Discharge lamps are the best solution for most indoor growers. HID lamps come in 3 basic flavors: High Pressure Sodium (HPS), Metal Halide (MH) and Mercury Vapor. Metal Halide is an improved spectrum, higher intensity Mercury Vapor design. HPS is a yellowish sort of light, maybe a bit pink or orange. Same as some street lamps. HPS lamps can be used to grow a crop from start to finish. Tests show that the HPS crop will mature 1 week later than a similar crop under MH, but it will be a bigger yield, so it's better to wait the extra week.
The easiest HID to buy, and least expensive initially are the flourescent and mercury vapor lamps. MV will put out about 8000 lumens per 175 watts, and 150 watts of HPS puts out about 15k lumens, so HPS is almost twice as efficient. But the color spectrum from MV lamp output is not as good. HPS is high in reds, which works well for flowering, while the Metal Halide is rich in blues, needed for the best vegetative growth. Unfortunately, MV lamps provide the worst spectrum for plant growth, but are very inexpensive to purchase.They are not recommended, unless you find them free, and even then, the electricity/efficiency issues outweigh the initial costs saved. 400 watt HPS will output around 45k lumens. For every 500 what a lamp taking half the power to output the same lumens (or twice the lumens at the same power level) will pay for itself in a year or so, and from then on, continuous savings will be reaped. This is a simple initial cost vs. operating costs calculation, and does not take into account the faster growth and increased yield the HPS lamp will give you, due to more light being available. If this is factored into the calculation the HPS lamp will pay for itself with the first crop, when compared to MV or fluorescent lamps, since it is easily twice as efficient and grows flowers faster and bigger.
Lamp Type Watts Lumens per bulb Total efficiency
Fluorescent Bulb 40 3000 400 watts = 30k lumens
Mercury Vapor 175 8000 400 watts = 20k lumens
Metal Halide 400 36000 400 watts = 36k lumens
High P. Sodium 400 45000 400 watts = 45k lumens
Notice the Mercury Vapor lamps are less efficient than the fluorescent (FL), and can not be positioned as close to the plants, so the plants will not be able to use as much of the MV light. The light distribution is not as good either. MV lamps simply are not suitable for indoor gardening. Use flourecent, MH, or HPS lamps only. Halogen arc lamps generate too much heat and not very much light for the wattage they use, and are also not recommened, even though the light spectrum is suitable for decent growth. There is a new type of HPS lamp called Son Agro, and it is available in a 250, 1000, and 400 watt range. The 400 is actually 430 watts; they have added 30 watts of blue to this bulb. It is a very bright lamp (53k lumens) and is made for greenhouse use. These bulbs can be purchased to replace normal HPS bulbs, so they are an option if you already own a HPS lamp.
The beauty of this bulb is that you do not give up most of the advantages of MH lamps, such as minimal internode spacing and early maturation, like most HPS users do, and you have all advantages of a HPS lamp. One bulb does it all. Internodal length of plants grown with the Son Agro are the shortest ever seen with any type of lamp. Plants grown under this lamp are incredibly bushy, compact and grow very fast. Son Agro bulbs however, do not last as long as normal HPS bulbs. There is something like a 25% difference in bulb life. Metal Halide (MH) is another option, and is available in both a 36k and 40k lumen bulbs for the 400 watt size. The Super Bulb (40k) is about $10-15 more, and provides an extra 4000 lumens. I think the Super Bulb may last longer; if so, that makes it the way to go. Halide light is more blue and better than straight HPS for vegetative growth, but is much less efficient than HPS.
It is possible to purchase conversion bulbs for a MH lamp that convert it to HPS, but the cost of the conversion bulb is more expensive than the color corrected Son Agro bulb, so I would recommend just buying the Son Agro HPS. Even though it costs more initially, you get more for your energy dollar later, and it's much easier to hang than 10 fluorescent tubes. If you have a MH 36k lumen lamp burning at 400 watts and a 53k lumen HPS burning at 430 watts, which is better efficiency wise? Which will provide a better yield? Obviously, the Son Agro HPS, but of course, the initial cost is higher. Actually, the ballast will add about 10% to these wattage numbers. The Son Agro bulb will prove much better than the MH for any purpose. The MH bulb does not last as long, but is cheaper. Compare $36 for a 400 watt MH bulb vs. $40 for the HPS bulb. Add $15 for the Son Agro HPS. The HPS bulb life is twice as long. 10k hours vs. 21k hours. The Son Agro is 16k hours or so. Still, longer bulb life and more light add up to more for your energy dollar long term. Horizontal mounting of any HID is a good idea, as this will boost by 30% the amount of light that actually reaches the plants. Most HID's sold for indoor garden use these days are of this horizontal mounting arrangement.
HPS is much less expensive to operate than any other type of lamp, but comes in the 70 watt size at the home improvement stores. This size is not very efficient, but blows away FL is. Over 9 sqr. feet, you need more light than one of these lamps can provide, but you could use two of them. 70 watt HPS lamps cost about $40 each, complete. Two lamps would be 140 watts putting out about 12k lumens, so it's better than FL, but a 150 watt HPS puts out about 18k lumens, the bulb life is longer, bulbs are cheaper and the lamp more efficient to operate. The biggest problem is that the mid size lamps like the 150 and 250 watt HPS are almost as expensive to buy as the larger 400's. For this reason, if you have room for the larger lamp, buy the 400. If your going pro, a 1080 watt model is available too, but you might find there is better light distribution from two 400's rather than one large lamp. Of course, the two smaller lamps are more expensive to purchase than one large lamp, so most people choose the larger lamp for bigger operations. Heat buildup in the room is a factor with HID lamps, and just how much light the plants can use is determined by temperature, CO2 levels, nutrient availability, PH, and other factors. Too big of a lamp for a space will make constant venting necessary, and then there is no way to enrich CO2, since it's getting blown out of the room right away.
Bulb Costs: the bulb cost on the 70 watt HPS is $24, the 150 is only $30, and the 400 is only $40. So you will spend more to replace two 70 watt bulbs than you will to replace one 400 watt HPS. (Go figure.) Add that up with the lower resale value on the 70's (practically nothing) and the fact that they are being modified and are not suited to this application, and it becomes evident that $189 for a 250 HPS lamp, or $219 for a 400, might just be worth the price. Keep in mind that for $30 more, you can have the larger lamp (400watt) and it puts out 20k lumens more light than the smaller lamp. Not a bad deal! SEA OF GREEN
Sea of Green (SOG) is the theory of harvesting lots of small plants, matured early to get the fastest production of buds available. Instead of growing a few plants for a longer period of time, in the same space many smaller plants are grown that mature faster and in less time. Thus, less time is required between crops. This is important to you when the electricity bill comes each month. One crop can be started while another is maturing, and a continuous harvest, year round can be maintained. 4 plants per square foot will be a good start for seedlings. 1 plant per square foot will allow plenty of room for each plant to grow a large top cola, but will not allow for much bottom branching. This is OK since indoors, these bottom branches are always shaded anyway, and will not grow very well unless given additional light and space. The indoor grower quickly realizes that plants that are too tall do not produce enough at the bottom to make the extra growing time used worth while. An exception to this rule would be if it is intended the plants are to go outside at some point, and it is expected that the light/shading issue will not be a factor at that point.
The plants, if started at the same time, should create what is called a "green canopy" that traps most of the light at the top level of the plants. Little light will penetrate below this level, since the plants are so close together. The gardener is attempting to concentrate on the top of the plant, and use the light and space to the best advantage, in as little time as possible. Use of nylon poultry fence or similar trellising laid out over the green canopy will support the plants as they start to droop under the weight of heavy fruiting tops. Stakes can be used too, but are not as easy to install for plants in the middle and back of the room,re difficult. It's easy to want big plants, since they will produce more yield per plant, but it's usually better with limited space to grow smaller plants that mature faster and pack into smaller spaces. Sea of Green was developed in Holland. Instead of fitting 4 large plants in that small room, fit 12 small ones on a shelf above 12 other small plants. These plants take only 3-4 months to mature from germination to ripe buds, and harvesting takes place constantly, since there is both a vegetative and flowering area devoted to each, with harvests every 45-60 days. It's not the size of the plant, but the maturity and quality of the product that counts.
Twice as many plants grown half as big will fill the grow space twice as fast, so harvests take place almost twice as often. Get good at picking early flowering plants, and propagate only those that are of the best quality. 6" square containers will allow for 4 plants per square foot. You may also gauge by the size of your growing tray (for passive hydroponics); I like kitty litter boxes. ($3 each at Target) Planted 4 per square foot, (for vegatative seedlings) a 12 sq. ft. closet will hold 48 seedlings on one shelf. In my case, I use 4" rockwool cubes that fit into kitty litter pans @ 12 cubes per pan. I can get 5 pans onto a 12 sq. ft. closet upper shelf, so that is 60 seedlings on one small shelf! For flowering indoors, 1 plant per sq. ft. is a good rule of thumb for SOG. If less plants are grown in this size space, it will take them longer to fill the space, thus more electricity and time will be used to create the same amount of product.
If more than one plant p.s.f. is attempted, the grower will soon find that plants thus crowded tend to be more stem than bud, and the total harvest may be reduced, so be cautious. It's good to avoid "topping" your plants if you want them to grow as fast as possible. It's better just to grow 2 or 4 times more plants, since they will produce more, faster, in the same space. Also, "training" plants with twist-ties is a great way to get them to bush out a bit. Just take any type of plastic or paper twist tie and wrap it around the top of the plant, then pull it over until the top is bent over 90-180 degrees and then attach this to the main stem lower on the plant. Do this for one week and then release the plant from it's bond. The plant can be trained in this fashion to take less vertical space and to grow bushier, to fill the grow space and force lower limbs to grow upward and join the green canopy. This technique takes advantage of the fact that if the top is pulled over, it creates a hormonal condition in the plant that makes it bush out at all lower internodes. Sea of Green entails growing to harvest the main cola (top) of the plant. Bottom branches are trimmed to increase air flow under the "blanket" of growing tops. Use these cuttings for clones, as they are the easiest part of the plant to root. It's also the fastest part of the plant to regenerate after flowering has occurred.
Germinate seeds in sterile soil (for planting outdoors) or a hydroponic medium of rockwool or vermiculite. DO NOT (!) use a Jiffy cube #7 to germinate seeds. Informal tests and experience show these peat cubes do not work well and stunt the plants growth. Planting in vermiculite gives the seedling so much oxygen, and are so easy for roots to grow in, that the plants look large 1 week after germination! Keep them moist at all times, by placing seeds in vermiculite filled 16oz cups with holes in the bottom, placed in a tray of weak nutrient solution, high in P. Rockwool cubes also work extremely well. When the seed sprouts, place the rockwool cubes into larger rockwool cubes. No repotting or transplanting, anours and plant germinated seeds with the grow tip up (if possible) in a growing medium as soon as the root coming out of the seed is 1/16" or longer. Use tweezers, and don't touch the root tip. Transplant as little as possible by germinating in the same container you intend to grow the plant in for a significant period of time. Just plant in vermiculite or rockwool. You will be amazed at the results! 90% germination is common with this method, as compared to 50% or less with Jiffy Cubes. (Your milage may vary.) 5-55-17 plant food such as Peter's Professional will stimulate root growth of the germinating seed and the new seedlings. Use a very dilute solution, in distilled water, about 1/3 normal strength, and keep temperatures between 72-80 degrees. Warm temperatures are very important. Many growers experience low germination rate if the temperatures are out of this range. A heating pad set to low or medium may be necessary, or a shelf constantly warmed by a light may do, but test it with a few seeds first, before devoting next years crop to it. No light is necessary and may slow germination. Cover germinating seeds with black paper to keep out light. Place seedlings in the light once they sprout. Plan on transplanting only once or twice before harvest. Use the biggest containers possible for the space and number of seedlings you plan to start. Plants will suffer if continuously transplanted and delay harvesting. You will suffer too, from too much work! 13 2-liter plastic soda bottles filled with vermiculite/pearlite will fit in a cat box tray, and will not require transplanting for the first harvest, if you intend to grow hydroponically. Transplant them for a second regenerated harvest. Cut holes in the bottom of containers and fill the last few inches at the top with vermiculite only, to start seeds or accept seedling transplants. Since vermiculite holds water well, wicks water well, but does not hold too much water, roots always have lots of oxygen, even if they are sitting in a tray full of water. A hydrogen peroxide based plant food is used to get extra oxygen to the plants when the pans are kept continuously full. The water can be allowed to recede each time after watering, before new solution is added. This allows the plants roots to dry somewhat, and make sure they are getting enough oxygen. Use SuperSoil brand potting soil, as it is excellent and sterilized. If you insist on using dirt from the yard, sterilize it in the microwave or oven until it gets steamy.(NOT RECOMMENDED) Sterilize the containers with a bleach solution, especially if they have been used a previous season for another plant.
Once sprouted, the plant starts vegetative growth. This means the plant will be photosynthesizing as much as possible to grow tall and start many grow tips at each pair of leaves. A grow tip is the part that can be cloned or propagated asexually. They are located at the top of the plant, and every major internode. If you "top" the plant, it then has two grow tips at the top. If you top each of these, you will have 4 grow tips at the top of the plant. (Since it takes time for the plant to heal and recover from the trauma of being pruned, it faster to grow 4 smaller plants and not top them at all. Or grow 2 plants, and "train" them to fill the same space. Most growers find) All plants have a vegetative stage where they are growing as fast as possible after the plant first germinates from seed. It is possible to grow plants with no dark period, and increase the speed at which they grow by 15-30&. Plants can be grown vegetatively indefinitely. It is up to the gardener to decide when to force the plant to flower. A plant can grow from 12" to 12' before being forced to flower, so theror magnesium and sulfur minerals. Trace minerals are needed too, if your food does not include them. Miracle Grow Patio includes these trace elements, and is highly recommended. Keep lights on continuously for sprouts, since they require no darkness period like older plants. You will not need a timer unless you want to keep the lamps off during a certain time each day. Try to light the plants for 18 or more hours, or continuously at this point. Bend a young plant's stem back and forth to force it to be very thick and strong. Spindly stems can not support heavy flowering growth. An internal oscillating fan will reduce humidity on the leave's stomata and improve the stem strength as well. The importance of internal air circulation can not be stressed enough. It will excersize the plants and make them grow stronger, while reducing many hazards that could ruin your crop.
HYDROPONIC VEGATATIVE SOLUTION, per gallon:
Miracle Grow Patio (contains trace elements) 1 teaspoon
Epsom salts 1/2 teaspoon
Human Urine (OPTIONAL - may create odors indoors.) 1/4 cup
Oxygen Plus Plant Food (OPTIONAL) 1 teaspoon
This mixture will insure your plants are getting all major and minor nutrients in solution, and will also be treating your plants with oxygen for good root growth, and potassium nitrate for good burning qualities. Another good GROWTH PHASE mix is 1/4 tsp Peter's 20/20/20 fertilizer per gallon of water, with trace elements and oxygen added, or fish emulsion. Fish emulsion is great in the grean-house or outdoors, where smells are not an issue, but is not recommended for indoors, due to its strong odor.
The the plant will be induced to fruit or flower with dark cycles of 11-13 hours that simulate the oncoming winter in the fall as the days grow shorter. As a consequence, it works out well indoors to have two separate areas; one that is used for the initial vegetative state and one that is used for flowering and fruiting. There is no other requirement other than to keep the dark cycle for flowering very dark with no light interruptions, as this can stall flowering by days or weeks. Once a plant is big enough to mature (12" or over), dark periods are required for most plants to flower and bear fruit. This will require putting the lamp on a timer, to create regular and strict dark periods of uninterrupted light. In the greenhouse, the same effect can be created in the Summer (long days) by covering it with a blanket to make longer night periods. A strict schedule of covering the plants at 8pm and uncovering them at 8am for 2 weeks will start your plants to flowering. After the first 2 weeks, the schedule can be relaxed a little, but it will still be necessary to continue this routine for the plants to completely flower without reverting back to vegatative growth. Outdoors, Spring and Fall, the nights are sufficiently long to induce flowering at all times. Merely bring the plants from indoors to the outside at these times, and the plants will flower naturally. In late Summer, with Fall approaching, it may be necessary only to force flowering the first two weeks, then the rapidly lengthening nights will do the rest. Give flowering plants high P plant food and keep them on a strict light regimen of 12 hours, with no light, or no more than a full moon during the dark cycle. 13 hours light, 11 dark may increase flower size while still allowing the plant to go into the flowering mode. Use longer dark periods to speed maturity toward the end of the flowering cycle if speed is of the essence. (8-10 days) This will however, reduce total yield. Two shelves can be used, one identical to the other, if strictly indoor gardening is desired. One shelf's lights are set for 12-13 hours, and one is lit continuously. Plants are started in continuous light, and are moved t material on the other side to reflect light back to the plants. This curtain can be tied with cord when rolled up to work on the garden, and can be velcroed down in place to make sure no light leaks in or out. If the shelf is placed up high, it will not be very noticeable, and will fit in any room. Visitors will never notice it unless you point it out to them, since it is above eye level, and no light is being emitted from it. Flowering plants like very high P level foods, such as 5-50-17, but 10-20-10 should be adequate. Nutrients should be provided with each watering when first flowering. Trace elements are necessary too; try to find foods that include these, so you don't have to use a separate trace element food too. Home improvement centers sell trace element solutions rich in iron for lawn deficiencies, and these can be adapted for use in cultivating the herb. Prices for these mass produced fertilizers are significantly cheaper than the specialized hydroponic fertilizers sold in indoor gardening shops, and seem to work just fine.
HYDROPONIC FLOWERING SOLUTION, per gallon:
1 tspn high P plant food, such as 15-30-15, or 5-50-17, etc.
1/2 tspn epsom salts
1 tspn Oxygen Plus Plant Food (Optional)
1 tspn Trace Element food
I cannot stress enough that during the FLOWERING PHASE, the dark period should not be violated by normal light. It delays flower development due to hormones in the plant that react to light. If you must work on the plants during this time, allow only as much light as a VERY pale moon can provide for less than 5 minutes. Keep pruning to a minimum during the entire FLOWERING PHASE. A green light can be used to work on the garden during the dark period with no negative reactions from the plants. These are sold as nursery safety lights, but any green bulb should be OK. It is best to keep the dark hours a time when you would normally not wish to visit the garden.
Personally, I like my garden lit from 7pm to 7am, since it allows me to visit the garden at night after work and in the morning before work, and all day long, while I'm too busy to worry about it, it lies unlit and undisturbed, flowering away... Flowering plants should not be sprayed often as this will promote mold and rot. Keep humidity levels down indoors when flowering, as this is the most delicate time for the plants in this regard. Early flowering is noticed 1-2 weeks after turning back the lights to 12 hour days. Look for 2 white hairs emerging from a small bulbous area at every internode. This is the easiest way to verify females early on. You can not tell a male from a female by height, or bushiness. 3-6 weeks after turning back the lights, your plants will be covered with these white pistils emerging from every growtip on the plant. It will literally be covered with them. These are the mature flowers, as they continue to grow and cover the plant. Some plants will do this indefinately until the lights are turned back yet again. At the point you feel your ready to see the existing flowers become ripe ( you feel the plant has enought flowers), turn the lights back to 8-10 hours.
Now the plant will start to ripen quickely, and should be ready to harvest in 2-3 weeks. The alternative, is to allow the plant to ripen with whatever natural day length is available outside, or keep the plants on a constant 12 hour regimen for the entire flowering process, which may increase yield, but takes longer. Plants can be flowered in the final stages outdoors, even if the days are too long for normal flowering to occur. Once the plant has almost reached peak floral development, it is too far gone to revert quickly to vegatative growth, and final flowering will occur regardless. This will free up precious indoor space sooner, for the next batch of clones to be flowered. Look for the white hairs to turn red, orange or brown,port that a hydroponic system will grow plants faster than a soil medium, given the same genetics and environmental conditions. This may be due to closer attention and more control of nutrients, and more access to oxygen. The plants can breath easier, and therefor, take less time to grow.
One report has it that plants started in soil matured after hydroponic plants started 2 weeks later! Fast growth allows for earlier maturation and shorter total growing time per crop. Also, with soil mixtures, plant growth tends to slow when the plants become root-bound. Hydroponics provides even, rapid growth with no pauses for transplant shock and eliminates the labor/materials of repotting if rockwool is used. (Highly recommended!) By far the easiest hydroponic systems to use are the wick and reservoir systems. These are referred to as Passive Hydroponic methods, because they require no water distribution system on an active scale (pump, drain, flow meter and path). The basis of these systems is that water will wick to where you want it if the medium and conditions are correct. The wick system is more involved than the reservoir system, since the wicks must be cut and placed in the pots, correct holes must be cut in the pots, and a spacer must be created to place the plants up above the water reservoir below. This can be as simple as two buckets, one fit inside the other, or a kiddie pool with bricks in it that the pots rest on, elevating them out of the nutrient solution. I find the wick setup to be more work than the reservoir system. Initial setup is a pain with wicks, and the plants sit higher in the room, taking up precious vertical space. The base the pot sits on may not be very stable compared to a reservoir system, and a knocked over plant will never be the same as an untouched plant, due to stress and shock in recovery. The reservoir system needs only a good medium suited to the task, and a pan to sit a pot in. If rockwool slabs are used, a half slab of 12" rockwool fits perfectly into a kitty litter pan. The roots spread out in very desirable horizontal fashion and have a lot of room to grow. Plants grown in this manner are very robust because they get a great deal of oxygen at the roots.
Plants grown with reservoir hydroponics grow at about the same rate as wicks or other active hydroponic methods, with much less effort required, since it is by far the simplest of hydroponic methods. Plants can be watered and feed by merely pouring solution into the reservoir every few days. The pans take up very little vertical space and are easy to handle and move around. In a traditional hydroponic method, pots are filled with lava/ vermiculite mix of 4 to 1. Dolite Lime is added, one Tblspn. per gallon of growing medium. This medium will wick and store water, but has excellent drainage and air storage capacity as well. It is however, not very resuable, as it is difficult to recapture and sterilize after harvest. Use small size lava, 3/8" pea size, and rinse the dust off it, over and over, until most of it is gone. Wet the vermiculite (dangerous dry, wear a mask) and mix into pots. Square pots hold more than round. Vermiculite will settle to bottom after repeated watering from the top, so only water from the top occasionally to leach any mineral deposits, and put more vermiculite on the top than the bottom. Punch holes in the bottom of the pots, and add water to the pan. It will be wicked up to the roots and the plants will have all they need to flourish. The reservoir is filled with 1 1/2 - 3 inches of water and allowed to recede between waterings. When possible, use less solution and water more often, to pull more oxygen to the roots faster over time. If you go away on vacation, simply fill the reserndoor gardening centers. Planting can be made easier with hydroponic mediums that require little setup such as rockwool. Rockwool cubes can be reused several times, and are premade to use for hydroponics. Some advantages of rockwool are that it is impossible to over water and there is no transplanting. Just place the plant's cube on top of a larger rockwool cube and enjoy your extra leisure time.
Some find it best to save money by not buying rockwool and spending time planting in soil or hydroponic mediums such as vermiculite/lava mix. Pearlite is nice, since it is so light. Pearlite can be used instead of or in addition to lava, which must be rinsed and is much heavier. But rockwool has many advantages that are not appreciated until you spend hours repotting; take a second look. It is not very expensive, and it is reusable. It's more stable than floral foam, which crunches and powders easily. Rockwool holds 10 times more water than soil, yet is impossible to over-water, because it always retains a high percentage of air. Best of all, there is no transplanting; just place a starter cube into a rockwool grow cube, and when the plant gets very large, place that cube on a rockwool slab. Since rockwool is easily reused over and over, the cost is divided by 3 or 4 crops, and ends up costing no more than vermiculite and lava, which is much more difficult to reclaim, sterilize and reuse (repot) when compared to rockwool. Vermiculite is also very dangerous when dry, and ends up getting in the carpet and into the air when you touch it (even wet), since it drys on the fingers and becomes airborne. For this reason, I do not recommend vermiculite indoors.
Rockwool's disadvantages are relatively few. It is alkaline PH, so you must use something in the nutrient solution to make it acidic (5.5) so that it brings the rockwool down from 7.7, to 6.5 (vinagar works great.) And it is irritating to the skin when dry, but is not a problem when wet. To pre-treat rockwool for planting, soak it in a solution of fish emulsion, trace mineral solution and phosphoresic acid (PH Down) for 24 hours, then rinse. This will decrease the need for PH worries later on, as it buffers the rockwool PH to be fairly neutural. Hydroponics should be used indoors or in greenhouses to speed the growth of plants, so you have more bud in less time. Hydroponics allows you to water the plants daily, and this will speed growth. The main difference between hydroponics and soil growing is that the hydroponic soil or "medium"is made to hold moisture, but drain well, so that there are no over-watering problems associated with continuous watering. Also, hydroponically grown plants do not derive nutrients from soil, but from the solution used to water the plants.
Hydroponics reduces worries about mineral buildup in soil, and lack of oxygen to suffocating roots, so leaching is usually not necessary with hydroponics. Hydroponics allows you to use smaller containers for the same given size plant, when compared to growing in soil. A 3/4 gallon pot can easily take a small hydroponically grown plant to maturity. This would be difficult to do in soil, since nutrients are soon used up and roots become cut-off from oxygen as they become root-bound in soil. This problem does not seem to occure nearly as quickly for hydroponic plants, since the roots can still take up nutrients from the constant solution feedings, and the medium passes on oxygen much more redily when the roots become bound in the small container. Plant food is administered with most waterings, and allows the gardener to strictly control what nutrients are available to the plants at the different stages of plant growth. Watering can be automated to some degree with simple and cheap drip system apparatus, so take advantage of this when possible. Hydroponics will hasten growing time If you will not be able to tend to the garden every day, be sure the pans are filled enough to last until next time you return, or you can easily lose your crop.
More traditional hydroponic methods (active) are not discussed here. I don't see any point in making it more diffucult than it needs to be. It is necessary to change the solution every month if your circulating it with a pump, but the reservoir system does away with this problem. Just rinse the medium once a month or so to prevent salts build up by watering from the top of the pot or rockwool cube with pure water. Change plant foods often to avoid deficiencies in the plants. I recommend using 2 different plant foods for each phase of growth, or 4 foods total, to lessen chances of any type of deficiency. Change the solution more often if you notice the PH is going down quickly (too acid). Due to cationic exchange, solution will tend to get too acid over time, and this will cause nutrients to become unavailable to the plants. Check PH of the medium every time you water to be sure no PH issues are occuring. Algae will tend to grow on the medium with higher humidities in hydroponics. It will turn a slab of rockwool dark green. To prevent this, use the plastic cover the rockwool came in to cover rockwool slab tops, with holes cut for the plants to stick out of it. It's easy to cut a packaged slab of rockwool into two pieces, then cut the end of the plastic off each piece. You now have two pieces of slab, each covered with plastic except on the very ends. Now cut 2 or 3 4" square holes in the top to place cubes on it, and place each piece in a clean litter pan. Now your ready to treat the rockwool as described above in anticipation of planting. If growing in pots, a layer of gravel at the top of a pot may help reduce algae growth, since it will dry very quickly. Algae is merely messy and unsightly; it will not actually cause any complications with the plants. RECYCLING
Use pots made from squarish containers such as plastic water jugs, etc. More plants will fit in less space and have more rooting area if square containers are used. This makes your garden a recycling center, and saves you tons of money. 2-liter soda bottles work great, but are not square. 13 will fit in a kitty litter box, and these will take a 3 foot plant to maturity hydroponically. If you can get 4 litter boxes in a closet, you can grow 52 plants like this vegatatively. Spread them out more for flowering. Old buckets, plastic 3-5 gallon containers (food and paint industries, try painters' and restaurant dumpsters), paper paint buckets, old plastic garbage cans of all sizes, and garbage bags have all been used successfully by growers. Do not use paper milk cartons and juice cartons for reservoir hydroponics, since these are difficult to sterilize, and they introduce fungus into your reservoir trays. Inert materials, such as plastic is best. Be sure to sterilize all containers before each planting with a chlorine bleach solution of 2 tbspn. of bleach to one gallon of water. Let container and medium such as rockwool soak for several hours in the solution before rinsing thoroughly.